The Beauty of the Bride
Loving Lord, to know You is life itself. Grant me freshness of perspective in the difficult situations of my life.
Read Song of Songs 4:1-5:1
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
“So he (Samuel) sent and had him (David) brought in. He was ruddy with a fine appearance and handsome features” (1Sam. 16:12).
I once had a tenant who complained that her mom had always said of her, “My daughter has inner beauty.” This was all very well, but not the greatest of confidence boosters! So, it never does any harm to extol the loveliness of your family members. There might be the risk of introducing vanity, but lack of self-esteem is not good either. How can we get this right? The problem is not just the pitiless media standards of female beauty, but our own instant assessments of people by their appearance. Christians, particularly within the Protestant tradition, have often been uneasy about beauty in the arts, perhaps because the temptation to sensuality which some find a barrier to true spiritual worship. Passages like this, however, remind us that beauty is part of the Word of God, inspired at many levels. If we take the traditional Christian approach to its interpretation, we have to recognize that this is Christ’s view of us, the church, his people.
The first part of today’s poem is called a blazon, where the beloved’s good features are enumerated. It got a bit out of hand during the Renaissance, which is why Shakespeare’s “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” sonnet (Sonnet 130), which reverses the clichés of the blazon, works so well. The Song’s version is gloriously inventive–hair “like a flock of goats coming down the mountain” is particularly fine, even in translation. Why is it, then, that so many worship songs are so limited in their words? Are we being condescending, and not giving the Spirit enough credit to make it beautiful? As George Herbert wrote in one of his Easter poems, “O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part, and make up our defects with his sweet art.”
“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (1 Chron. 16:29, KJV). How can you answer that call today?
Loving Father, I affirm Your intention in creation that sex be seen as good. I also affirm my desire to always express that gift within the commitment of covenant, wedded love.
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